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(Panthera pardus orientalis) the world's rarest cat
This leopard subspecies is especially distinctive due to a particularly pale coat compared to most other subspecies, and dark rosettes which are large and widely spaced with thick, unbroken rings. Fur color changes from reddish yellow in summer to light yellow during winter. To help the cat stay warm, the length of its fur can vary between one and three inches, depending on the time of year. The Amur leopard also has longer legs than other leopards, allowing it to walk in snow with greater ease.
Males weigh between 110 and 120 pounds, and females between 65 and 75 pounds. Body length averages about 4-5 feet.
Distribution and Habitat
The Amur leopard is only found along the border between Russia and China, specifically along the Amur River. It prefers in temperate forest habitats which experience a wide range of variability in temperature and precipitation but is known to adapt to almost any habitat that provides it with sufficient food and cover.
Habits and Behaviors
Females maintain home ranges that range in size from 15 to 38 square miles, while males can have territories as large as 155 square miles. Aside from mating and territorial disputes, individual Amur leopards rarely interact with one another.
This big cat doesn't growl like other predatory animals, instead it uses a distinctive rasping call as its main vocalization.
The Amur leopard preys primarily on roe and sika deer, hares, badgers, mice, and other small mammals, but is quite capable to taking down animals up to three times its size. It prefers to ambush its prey, dropping out of a tree and seizing it by the throat, but will also stalk an animal to within a few yards before striking. A very muscular and fit animal, a leopard can easily carry its kill into a tree, which it often does to keep it safe from other predators.
Breeding can occur year round, but is most common in January and February. One to four cubs are born after a gestation period of 90-105 days. The cubs' open eyes at about 10 days, they are weaned at 3 about months, and are independent at 18-24 months. Sexual maturity is reached at about 3 years, and lifespan is 10-15 years in the wild.
Considered the world's rarest cat, only 25-40 Amur leopards are known to exist in the wild. Amur leopards are often hunted for their beautiful pelts, and are also killed by farmers who have lost livestock to predators. Habitat loss has also contributed to the Amur leopard's decline.
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This page was last updated on May 12, 2017.